Monday, August 22, 2005


President Bush's standing in the polls have hovered in the low-40% range for most of the summer, primarily due to his handling of the Iraq War and the concomitant rise in oil prices. The public support for the Iraq War has likewise plummeted as the knowledge that we were lied into this folly sinks in and more American soldiers come home in flag-draped coffins. And what are Democratic officials doing during this opportune moment? According to the Washington Post, they are fighting amongst themselves.

Democrats say a long-standing rift in the party over the Iraq war has grown increasingly raw in recent days, as stay-the-course elected leaders who voted for the war three years ago confront rising impatience from activists and strategists who want to challenge President Bush aggressively to withdraw troops.

The wariness, congressional aides and outside strategists said in interviews last week, reflects a belief among some in the opposition that proposals to force troop drawdowns or otherwise limit Bush's options would be perceived by many voters as defeatist. Some operatives fear such moves would exacerbate the party's traditional vulnerability on national security issues.

So far, the only elected Democratic official with visibility who is standing up and demanding a time table for pulling the American troops out of Iraq is Senator Russ Feingold. I'm sure Republicans are delighted by Senator Feingold's impetuous demand, primarily because they won't have to do anything. The other Democrats will slap the rebel down for them, as indeed they have.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, who rose to public prominence on an antiwar presidential campaign, said on television a week ago that it was the responsibility of the president, not the opposition, to come up with a plan for Iraq.

Republican strategists chortle at the Democrats' inability to fashion a coherent message on the war. The Republican National Committee on Friday released a series of contrasting Democratic statements on troop withdrawals. "Instead of attacking our president's resolve," RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt said in a statement, "Democrats might want to focus on the debate within their own party."

While Governor Dean may be right in taking the position that ultimately it is the responsibility of the maladministration who got us into this mess to fix it, that should not stop the Democrats in office from debating the issue loudly when the next military appropriations bill comes to the floor.

While it may be embarrassing for those in Congress who voted to give President Bush the authority to go to war in the first place, that should not stop the Democrats from pointing out that they were lied to and misled by the administration so determined to invade Iraq that it fixed the facts to get that vote.

People continue to die in Iraq every day we occupy the country, and I think it clear that will continue until we leave. Most Americans feel the same way.

"The American people are much farther ahead in their thinking about the war than the White House or the Republican Congress," said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). "They understand we can't continue down this same failed course in Iraq."

The Democrats should finally realize that what the American public wants is for their elected officials to do the right thing, the moral thing, and, yes, at this point, the courageous thing. The symbolic handwringing by the Democrats surely does more to enforce the view of weakness in matters of national security than would a bold and forthright statement on what must be done. Senator Feingold's plan is a wonderful start at just the right time.

The Democrats in office need to grow some ovaries on the issue, or in 2006 the American public will throw them out as well.


Blogger Ralph said...

Arriving from Atrios. Good weblog here.

Perhaps you are from New England? ("Ayup" sounds like that to me.)

"Grow some ovaries" -- good! I dislike the obsession with testicles. Better yet, people could grow their brains and their consciences and their courage. Gifts from Oz, more or less.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Elaine Supkis said...

I don't know that growing sexual organs makes one brave. Plenty of brave children in this world, you know! Heh.

5:29 PM  

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